Nya medier, gamla verktyg [New Media, Old Tools]

Mats Dahlström


The concepts, methods and perspectives of “material bibliography” and its various branches (analytical, descriptive, historical, social and textual) have as tools been specifically developed in order to deal with the artefacts of script and print culture. To whate extent, if at all, is it possible (or even desirable) to bring these tools of material bibliography into the worlds of new media and apply them in critical analysis of *digital* document and their texts? Does such a supposedly quaint scholarly practice really have anything to contribute to modern media studies? This article attempts a critical analysis of material bibliography versus new media, primarily by scrutinising its fundamental tools: the bibliographic concepts. A key question is whether the concepts are far too dependant on their original historical media ecology to be meaningfully exported to other media ecologies, or whether it is indeed possible to identify relatively context-free meanings in the concepts that enable them to cross media borders. Particular emphasis is put on the bibliographic concept of material document and its distinction from an immaterial work.


material bibliography; new media; conceptual analysis; digital documents

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